As an entrepreneur, launching your business is a series of trials and errors. While some startup founders are experts in one field, few have experience in all the areas required to be successful. As such, starting a business is the definition of a learning experience.
One of the first steps towards building a business is to validate the idea. Many of us have ideas for a business. Some of them may even be good ones. If you’re going to put forth the time, effort, and money to actually bring your idea to fruition, you’ll want to first obtain proof that the idea has merit.
Scratch Your Own Itch
Most entrepreneurial ideas begin as a means to solve a problem in the idea-holder’s own life. Because of this, you are essentially your first customer. Consider the problem and set about fixing it in a way that you would want to see it fixed.
If, for example, you’ve ever wondered aloud “why isn’t there a mobile app that does XYZ,” your solution is likely to build the app yourself. However, keep in mind that while you want to solve your own problem; ultimately you aren’t looking to cater to a single person.
Talk Early And Often
Ultimately, businesses and products exist to solve problems in consumers’ lives. If you have the need to solve this problem, odds are good there are others who feel the same way. Part of validating your business idea is confirming that the problem your business solves exists in minds other than your own. Additionally, the problem must be painful enough that people are willing to pay for a solution.
Speak early and often about your idea and gather feedback. This can help your idea take shape. Identify those who are most likely to become customers and be prepared to follow up with them later.
Before you take out a loan or sign a contract with a manufacturing company, pump the brakes. Start small with a minimum viable product, or MVP. An MVP is essentially a bare-bones version of your ultimate product. It contains the minimum features and components necessary to fulfill the intended functions.
Your first goal should always be to simply get a product that works to address the core problem you’re attempting to solve. Of course, you can always expand functionality and add additional features later. If you’re constructing a physical product, use components that are already available to you in the market. The idea is essentially to get a working prototype that is quick and cheap.
Revisit Your Potential Customers
Once you have a minimum viable product, it’s time to revisit those individuals you identified as potential customers and try to sell it to them. In theory, these customers should be the ones who were most willing to use a solution that works for them. As such, they should be the most primed for a sale.
Go Out and Validate
In science, researchers begin with a hypothesis. Then, their efforts center around trying to prove their own idea wrong. As an entrepreneur, a similar approach should be taken. Instead of trying to prove that your idea will work; try to prove that it won’t. If you fail at this part, you’ll know you’re on to something good.
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